The Proven Platter – Kenya, August 2024

Please join us in welcoming the two newest members of the Together Women Rise recipe curator team. We are delighted to have Kristina Skepton and Terri Tucker share with us. They are a team within a team, working together to create and share recipes, knowledge, and some tasty additions to our recipe site. Thank you, Kristina and Terri! – Chris Worthy, Education Coordinator

For our first Proven Platter feature, we delved into the rich flavors of Kenyan cuisine.

Our quest began with a research session at the local library, where we became intrigued by the diversity of dishes including those that utilize sweet potatoes, black-eyed peas, and collards – all staples in a Kenyan household.

Inspired by our library findings, we planned a recipe tasting session that would amount to a complete meal for ourselves, our partners, and a dear friend, inspired cook and fellow Rise member, Darlene. We chose dishes that appealed to both of us and contained ingredients that would be easy for anyone to find in their local grocery store.

Although we initially intended to complement our vegetarian meal with a rotisserie chicken (mainly to appease our partners), we forgot about it amidst our excitement. Remarkably, our entirely vegetarian meal was complete and satisfying to everyone.

Our menu featured the very typical and delicious Kenyan main dish, Kunde, accompanied by flavorful collard greens. We finished the meal with two delightful desserts: Sweet Potato Pudding and Tropical Fruit Salad with Coconut Ice Cream.

Terri made the desserts and Kristina made the Kunde and collard greens. Kristina explored a myriad of Kunde recipes. She ultimately figured out the list of ingredients featured in all Kunde recipes: black-eyed peas, tomatoes, onion, and peanuts/peanut butter. She started with those ingredients to establish her Kunde base. By itself, the flavor was bland, so she started incorporating additional ingredients that are found in different Kunde recipes, i.e., butternut squash, turmeric, coriander, and red pepper flakes, to create something authentic and flavorful. Group consensus: a win! (Darlene later said it tasted even better the next day.)

Sweet Potato Pudding was the dish that caught Terri’s attention so that’s how it ended up in our culinary lineup, especially since sweet potatoes are a crop that is not only vital to Kenya’s agriculture but also a popular and versatile ingredient in its culinary traditions. When shopping for ingredients, she found only Murasaki sweet potatoes. This variety, while not traditional, proved to be an excellent choice, adding a unique twist to the recipe. The pudding is not overly sweet and can be altered with toppings for taste. She also made a homemade brown sugar whipped cream that complemented the pudding beautifully.

Bonus: Just last week, Kristina met a gentleman from Kenya. She detailed the menu for the tasting night and his comment was simply, “That’s Kenya!”

Kenyan Black-eyed Peas and Tomatoes (Kunde)

Serves 8 – 12

4 tablespoons oil
1 large onion, minced
4 cups tomatoes, diced (I used 3 cups fresh tomatoes and 1 cup canned fire-roasted tomatoes, since it’s so often hard to find good tomatoes.)
2 cups (approximately) cubed and cooked butternut squash (I bought a microwave-ready container of cubed squash to make it easy)
3 cans (15 oz.) black-eyed peas
½ cup creamy peanut butter
½ cup water
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste


Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the tomatoes and simmer about 5 minutes.

Cook the squash and set aside to add at the end.

To the pan with onions and tomatoes, add the remaining ingredients (except the squash). Mash some of the peas to add some creaminess to the dish. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer about 10-12 minutes.

Add the cooked squash, and then serve over rice. Optional: add some crushed peanuts to the top.


East African Sweet Potato Pudding

Serves 8

1 quart water
6 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (Murasaki sweet potatoes are delicious for this, but any sweet potato will work!)
2 cups whole milk
1 cup coconut milk
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon ground saffron
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup finely chopped dates
Optional: toasted coconut flakes or chopped nuts (such as cashews or peanuts) on top before serving for added crunch and flavor.


In a heavy saucepan, boil 1 quart of water. Add the sweet potatoes and cook until tender, approximately 25-30 minutes. Drain and return them to the pan.

Stir in the milk, coconut milk, heavy cream, sugar, saffron, cardamom, and cinnamon. Mix well.

Over moderate heat, bring the mixture to a boil while stirring frequently – use a wooden spoon for best results. Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for about 1 hour, stirring often, until the pudding thickens substantially. Remove from heat.

The pudding should be quite smooth by now and you can use a potato masher to ensure all the lumps are out. For a smoother texture, options are to use an immersion blender or push the pudding through a fine sieve or food mill. Put into a serving bowl. Stir in the finely chopped dates. Refrigerate until cool.

Before serving, garnish with toasted coconut flakes or chopped nuts and a light dusting of ground cardamom.

Recipes and photo credit: Kristina Skepton and Terri Tucker